As COVID-19 gradually comes under control in the US, we are becoming 2 countries: one that listends to science and medical advice, and another rather more backward. This leads to some startlingly disturbing contrasts in the news.
If you invest in US stocks, you certainly want to diversify with some bonds for risk control, availability of funds for rebalancing, and earning some income. Should you use Treasury bonds (which earn approximately nothing, but are safe) or corporate bonds (which earn something, but are riskier)?
Last November, we looked at metagenomics of sewage SARS-CoV-2 RNA vs medical loads in Boston. The results then were inconclusive. There’s a lot more data now. Does the mRNA in sewage actually predict anything useful about COVID hospital admission, ICU admission, ventilator use, and death? Yes, it does.
Hank Green once again has one or two true and useful words to say to young people about COVID-19 vaccination.
Romania has one of the highest vaccine hesitancy rates in Europe, around 50%. They’re starting to get… creative.
Some good news, for once: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is now known to work quite well against the British & South African variants in the real world. Especially in preventing hospitalization and death.
As of today, the esteemed Weekend Editrix is 2 weeks past her 2nd dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and thus as fully immunized as it’s possible to be right now. At 3pm EDT, she is officially out of COVID jail! Well, more or less…
A few weeks ago, we hooked up Google Translate for this blog. It’s time to review how well it’s been working… or not.
In Latin, “corvus” means crow. So the adjectival form used in biology for birds-such-as-crows is “corvid”. Sometimes people get confused in interesting ways.
As of yesterday, we passed a remarkable milestone: the billionth COVID-19 vaccination dose has been administered.
Today the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) today recommended restoring use of the JnJ COVID-19 vaccine with warnings, and thrombosis treatment guidelines for clinicians. The CDC & FDA agreed, and lifted the restrictions. This seems to be very much the correct conclusion, albeit one arrived at far too slowly.
Today the Weekend Editrix got shot. Again. (The good way.)
Does political alignment in the US inform medically-relevant behaviors like mask use and vaccine uptake? Alas, yes: but not in a good way.
Another study has come out, comparing clotting risks of COVID-19 and various vaccines versus each other. What are the risks? And can we interpret the study the obvious way, or not?
Today the US regulatory agencies “paused” the use of the JnJ COVID-19 vaccine to investigate thromboses, similar to what’s been seen with the AZ/OX vaccine. How many, how bad, and what will a pause do?
Have you ever wondered if you could make sense of the RNA code in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, if you could just read it? With some help, you can now do exactly that.
As of today, your humble Weekend Editor is 2 weeks past the 2nd dose of the Pfizer vaccine. At 5pm, I am officially out of COVID jail! Right? Not quite…
Interestingly, some Stanford scientists saved a few drops of the Moderna vaccine, apparently ran them through their sequencers, and posted the sequences on GitHub.
As we’ve seen before, the biggest group of American vaccine refuseniks are White Republicans (especially men). Guess who’s swooping in to take up their vaccine supply?
Today is April Fool’s Day. Attrapons le poisson d’avril!
Today the Weekend Editrix got shot. The good way: Pfizer/BioNTech BNT162b.
SARS-CoV-2 is mutating, in increasingly dangerous ways. Can we keep up with booster vaccines for the variants, or even eliminate it once and for all?
Sometimes politicians pursue policies so breathtakingly out of touch with reality, you just don’t know what to say. (Understandably, because “breathtaking”.)
Let’s think about something other than COVID. Not Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird”, awesome as that is, but an actual free bird consorting with flying humans.
Today I got shot (again). In the good sense: the second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Somebody asked me about the AstraZeneca press release on their new Phase 3 vaccine trial. AstraZeneca has done it again… just not in a good way.
Time for perspective: we’ve been stuck in a pandemic for a year now. What’s the best summary of your experience?
Somebody asked me whether worries the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine and dangerous blood clotting seen in some patients were a real problem. You know what the anti-vaxxers are gonna say; what do the data say?
Sen McConnell claims the Democrats abuse the filibuster! (Because of course he does.) But what do the data say?
Today is Pi Day (3/14). You’re not still using decimal, are you?
If a large enough clade of US persons refuse COVID-19 vaccination, herd immunity may never be reached. Right now in the US, that clade seems to be White Republicans. (World-wide, it’s of course more complicated.)
There is an apparently famous American country music singer named Dolly Parton. I was never a fan because… country music, ugh! But it appears I need to be a fan of the woman herself, because of her philanthropy and her encouragment of vaccination. Hmm… I had no idea.
Today I got shot. No, not the bad way (though gun control is a legitimate issue in the US). I mean, with the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Getting the appointment (and the 2nd dose) was Kafkaesque. The actual medical experience was pretty ok.
Today the J&J COVID-19 vaccine gets reviewed by VRBPAC (Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee) at the FDA, for an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization). Let’s have a look through their submission documents!
It’s been a couple weeks, so we’ve all calmed down a little. But still… why did 43 Republican senators vote to block the obvious guilty verdict in Trump’s impeachment?
So. US politics: it seems The Creature is being impeached. Again. What can we do to make sure the impeachment makes a difference this time?
Vaccine rollouts worldwide, with very few exceptions, have been slow & bungled. But we face a cruel equation: delay = death. Why do we tolerate this?
2021-Jan-29: JnJ COVID-19 vaccine interim readout: 57% - 72% efficacy, depending on… SOMETHING
Today Johnson & Johnson/Janssen announced the interim readout (not final numbers!) of their adenovirus-vector based COVID-19 vaccine: 72% efficacy in the US, down to 57% efficacy in South Africa. We previously described the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna/Lonza vaccines as “beautiful”; this is “relatively pretty”. Pretty enough to do some good in the world, though.
Honestly, what sort of idiot tries to sell fake Viagra on an obscure, crummy little blog like this? And on an old post at that?! (Please don’t answer those rhetorical questions, especially if you actually know the answers.)
Today was a good day: with the inauguration (and the constitutional mandate behind it) at 12:01pm, Biden & Harris and a (barely) Democratic Congress are back in charge in the US.
Periodically, anti-vaxxers will say they prefer the ‘natural’ immunity acquired by recovering from a disease, because vaccines are ‘artificial’. Is that likely to be true for COVID-19? In a word: NO.
Suppose you had 2 groups of politicians, but one of them thought a pandemic was “fake news”, refused to wear masks, congregated indoors with no social distancing, blocked public health spending, mocked public health guidance, was proud of their ignorance, and were just in general jerks about the subject. Do you think they’d get infected with the disease more often than their opponents?
I was wondering what exactly it takes to commit ‘sedition’. Turns out, it’s kind of complicated. What with insurrection, threats to murder Representatives, Senators, and the Vice President last week, apparently everything is complicated.
Today was when the Electoral College was to have been certified in Congress, sealing the fate of the presidential election. It is also the day the Democrats attained a majority in the Senate. Alas, it is also the day Republicans incited insurrectionists and terrorists against the United States government.
On 2020-Dec-30, the formal scientific publication of the Moderna’s COVID-19 Phase 3 trail in the prestigious New Englad Journal of Medicine dropped into public view. It’s good.
Somebody asked me whether the COVID-19 vaccines currently being used would work vs the mutant form of SARS-CoV-2 now driving COVID-19 in the UK. Looks like it probably will, though nobody really knows. What will definitely work: masking, social distancing, working from home, no gatherings beyond a single household, having adequate food & medicine stored, getting a flu vaccination, and not being a super-spreader of misinformation.
Explaining to COVID vaccine clinical trial participants that the probability of a certain serious adverse event is 1/50,000 or less doesn’t work. Most people instantly stop listening at the slightest whiff of mathematics, including ordinary numbers. But if you compare it to being struck by lightning, that makes sense to most people. Can you guess what happened next?
Here at Chez Weekend, there’s a rumor circulating that on Christmas Eve, Santa got pulled over by the cops?!
You all are scaring me, with your science denying, mask refusing, socially close quarters, holiday travelling ways. C’mon: wear a mask, socially distance, avoid indoor gatherings, get a flu shot. At least pretend to try you want to live until the vaccine is available, ok? Then maybe you won’t randomly kill the rest of us, who do want to live.
Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. It is not, however, the day of earliest sunset (of interest to night owls). Nor is it the day of latest sunrise (of interest to morning… people). Therein lies the tale of the analemma, first told to me long ago by a marvelous former colleague, Doug Dodds.
Yesterday was also a good day: the FDA’s external advisory committee passed the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at 5:20pm EST on 2020-Dec-17. Late today, the FDA agreed and granted the Emergency Use Authorization.
Somebody asked me about the contents of the Moderna EUA application for their COVID-19 vaccine. Summary: It is also quite beautiful.
Apparently the Weekend Publisher, occasionally also known as “my cat”, is the reincarnation of the spirit animal of a fin-de-siècle cabaret in Paris.
Somebody asked me about the confidence intervals Pfizer reported for vaccine efficacy in various age groups. Some of them are negative! Are they sensible?
Today is a good day: the FDA’s external advisory committee passed the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at 6:30pm EST.
Ok, nobody asked me this time, because for once I got out ahead of them. It seems Pfizer/BioNTech submitted an EUA (“emergency use authorization”) package to the FDA. What’s it look like?
The sad news about Arecibo brings up the topic of SETI. In better news, an amateur astronomer has proposed a particular star as the source of the famous “Wow!” event, using the Gaia Archive. Wait, what?
Alas, for the Arecibo Observatory/National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center is no more.
So we just had an election. You may have heard there were some rather sharply drawn sides. How big were each of the factions?
Somebody asked me about the style of argument used when discussing the Talmud, a centuries-long rabbinical dialog on Jewish Law. The style involves not so much winning (though there is that), but mostly about understanding multiple points of view. Sound like something the world could use about now?
Somebody asked me about the early readout this week of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine Phase 3 trial. Initially they said 70% efficacy. It’s not a stunningly good 95% result like Pfizer or Moderna; still, it’s a good, craftsmanlike bit of work. But then… things got weird.
Hank Green (notable web producer, author, and master of miscellany) recorded his weekly vlog to his brother about whether he would take a COVID vaccine. Roughly: “oh hell yeah!” (though far more entertainingly).
Today the AP finally called Georgia for Biden, after the hand recount. But the Senate still hangs fire until the runoff in January. And apparently, 73 million Americans somehow voted for Trump?!
Everybody’s worried about how long the protection from a COVID vaccine will last, whether there can be reinfections, and so on. How much do we actually know about that as of now?
Today the Moderna/Lonza vaccine trial vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 95% efficacy! Also, 100% prevention of severe cases of COVID-19. Like last week’s Pfizer/BioNTech interim readout, this is again unabashedly good news.
Today the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine trial gave its first interim readout: 90% efficacy. This is unabashedly good news.
Previously, we mentioned there were data showing the level of coronavirus RNA in metro Boston wastewater, and speculated that it might be predictive of medical loads like hospitalization and death rates. The truth turns out to be weirder than that (comme d’habitude).
The election is coming, with a possibility of right-wing violence and subversion. COVID-19 is forming up for another wave of infections. Winter is coming. It’s terrifying, but there are some things you can do.
At autumn in New England, thoughts turn to the extreme beauty of nature, the weather turning more comfortably cooler & drier, cinnamon and nutmeg smells everywhere, and… trebuchets, catapaults, air cannons, and other implements of imparting to pumpkins various levels of sub-orbital trajectories.
Somebody asked me (honest!) about a news item linking improved treatment outcomes for COVID-19 with patients using statin and ACE inhibitor drugs. Very preliminary stuff, and the effect size is not giant, but it is peer-reviewed and looks quite legit. Not gonna change the world, but even small bits of good news are welcome.
Today I voted. You should too, if you’re an eligible US voter.
As you may have heard, the US is about to face an election more conentious than any since the Civil War. With vote counting likely drawn out due to right-wing mischief at, for example, the Post Office, what are we to make of partial returns as far as predicting the outcome? And will there be zombies?
Today we commemorate 1983-Sep-26: the day Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov prevented the end the world. Go thou forth and do likewise: save as much of the world as you can.
Looking for a glimmer of hope amid the COVID clouds? Worried about whether a vaccine will be appropriately safe & effective? You’ve come to the right place.
Somebody asked me (different “somebody” this time, though the same subject) about the Moderna Q2 earnings call. Do I look like I know the answer to questions like that?! On close inspection, though, it looks like a python swallowing a pig: a smallish company tackling a big problem with COVID vaccines.
Somebody asked me, “What’s that stupid avatar on your blog?” It’s a reminder that even simple questions show infinite complexity if you look closely enough. And sometimes even if you don’t!
Somebody asked me (really it’s the same “somebody” behind all of these) about the Moderna COVID vaccine phase 3 start. Basically, it looks like the start of a reasonably designed Phase 3 trial: the beginning of a long slog to test safety & efficacy.
Just seeing if I can make the math typesetting work. Nothing to see here, kid… move along.
Qualitative knowledge is real, but… quantitative knowledge is almost always better.
Ok, so I finally tracked down the official Phase 1/2 readout of the Moderna/Lonza COVID vaccine (whose Phase 3 delay we commented on about 10 days ago). Here are some quick thoughts, but the top line seems to be very good.
Somebody asked me — same troublemakers, in case you’re curious — about whether the Moderna/Lonza Phase 1/2 vaccine trial looked reasonable and if the delay of Phase 3 start for a protocol amendment was reasonable. Sure seems so! No, it’s not an investment signal.
Somebody asked me what’s in the Phase 1/2 readout of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine. Of course they wanted to know about the trial results, but they also wanted to know if it is an investment signal. It is not.
Somebody asked me about this article in the Boston Globe by Vernal Coleman on the racial makeup of the Boston Police Department: does it resemble the community it polices?
Somebody asked me, “What’s your retirement plan?”
So… yet another blog? Really?!